So far, March has been a big month for formerly extirpated large predators in the U.S.:
First, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scientists confirmed that an animal killed on a western Massachusetts farm after mauling several sheep was in fact a gray wolf. Farmers hunted Massachusetts wolves out of existence over 160 years ago, and the nearest current populations are in Ontario and Quebec. Officials don’t believe the wolf was ever held in captivity, which gives lupine enthusiasts hope that one day more big, bad wolves might wander their way back into New England’s forests. (If past experience proves true, Bay Staters can probably expect future fisticuffs between nature lovers and farmers).
Then, the following day, a remote research camera unmistakably captured a wolverine prowling in the Tahoe National Forest north of Truckee, Calif. The last wolverine was shot in 1922, and though biologists have long searched for the large predator and oft-used high school mascot, they’ve always returned up empty-handed. But Oregon State grad student Kate Moriarty caught the wolverine on a remote camera she’d set up to study martens, the wolverine’s much more diminutive cousin. Good job, Katie: It’s the first known photo of a wolverine in the Sierra Nevada ever.
The reappearance of both animals was so well-timed, I have to wonder if both species might have planned it this way over an elk carcass dinner in Alberta or something.
Wolverine: "OK, Wolfie, I’ll take Cali and you take Massachusetts."
Wolf: "Alright, Wolvie. This is gonna freakin’ blow their minds."
— Ted Alvarez